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17 Oct 2017

Compass to take on management of an additional 1796 social housing tenancies

Hunter based Compass Housing Services has been announced as one of the big winners under a new project that will see thousands of social housing dwellings transferred to the not-for-profit community housing sector.

Minister for Social Housing Pru Goward today announced that from mid-2019 Compass will take on the management of an additional 1796 social housing tenancies in the Cessnock, Singleton, Dungog, Mid-coast and Muswellbrook local government areas as part of the Social Housing Management Transfer initiative.

Compass was selected following a rigorous three-tiered evaluation process that assessed its capacity to deliver quality services and ability to deliver good outcomes for social housing clients.

The move will bring Compass’ portfolio to more than 6200 dwellings, making it one of the largest community housing providers in the southern hemisphere.

Compass’ Group Managing Director Greg Budworth said as well as industry leading tenancy and property management, social housing tenants in the package area would benefit from a range of Compass community development programs.

“At Compass we believe community housing is about more than just providing accommodation, it’s also about building communities,” he said.

“That’s why we offer a range of programs that help tenants achieve better social and economic participation and foster a sense of belonging and connection to their homes and their communities.

“By providing links to education and employment we are also able to help those tenants with the capacity to do so to transition out of the social housing sector and into private accommodation. 

“Studies consistently show that tenants of community housing providers report high levels of satisfaction and Compass last year recorded an overall satisfaction rate of 93 per cent.  We’re excited to be able to extend our offering to our new tenants and look forward to having them as part of the Compass community.”

Currently around 19 per cent of social housing dwellings in NSW are managed by the not-for-profit sector. That figure will rise to 32 per cent under the Social Housing Management Transfer program.

Mr Budworth said the transfer would improve the financial viability of the sector by enabling tenants to access Commonwealth Rent Assistance.

“As well as contributing to high quality maintenance, and the delivery of new community programs, the additional cash flow will enable Compass to add to the supply of new affordable housing dwellings,” he said.   

The NSW Government will maintain ownership of all of the properties subject to management transfers in the Cessnock, Singleton, Dungog, Mid-Coast and Muswellbrook areas and will lease them to Compass for 20 years to provide social housing.

Tenants will remain in their homes, retain all of their tenancy rights and will not pay more rent from their current income as a result of this change.

Information sessions will be held over the months ahead to give tenants an opportunity to meet Compass staff and ask any questions they may have about the transfer.

Any Department of Family and Community Services staff affected by the transfer will be offered ongoing employment with Compass on equivalent terms and conditions.

ENDS

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04 Oct 2017

Compass renews calls for a national housing plan on World Habitat Day

Compass Housing has marked World Habitat Day by renewing its calls for a national housing plan led by a dedicated federal housing minister.

The purpose of World Habitat Day is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and on the basic right of everyone to have adequate and affordable shelter. It is also intended to remind the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns.

The theme of this year’s World Habitat Day is Housing Policies: Affordable Homes.

Compass Group Managing Director Greg Budworth said addressing housing affordability was critical to the long-term health of Australian society.   

“Australia currently has some of the most expensive housing anywhere on earth,” he said

“Both Sydney and Melbourne are already in the top 10 least affordable cities in the world and Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra aren’t far behind.”

“Even regional towns like Newcastle are extraordinarily expensive by international standards.”

“A lack of affordable housing causes economic and social segregation within our cities. It forces households to take on unsustainable levels of debt and it places those on low incomes at risk of homelessness,” he said.

“If we don’t get this right, we are condemning our children and grandchildren to a lower standard of living than the one we have enjoyed,” Mr Budworth said.

Mr Budworth said this year’s World Habitat Day marked the one year anniversary of the Australian Government signing up to the New Urban Agenda (NUA) – a 20 year United Nations roadmap that encourages countries to rethink the way they plan, manage and live in cities.

He said while there had been some positive developments, including the creation of a National Housing Finance Corporation, and new incentives to attract private investment in affordable housing, a comprehensive national plan was required to ensure momentum wasn’t lost.

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18 Sep 2017

Partner with us - Social and Affordable Housing Fund

Compass has been awarded a contract through the NSW Government’s Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF), an innovative new approach to the creation of social and affordable housing in NSW. SAHF will deliver an additional 2200 dwellings in its first phase alone.

Compass Housing is seeking developers, investors and builders to help it to deliver the multi-million $ housing project.

Compass will deliver 600 new social and affordable houses across the Hunter and Central Coast over the next three years and will create approximately $200 million worth of construction activity and support hundreds of local jobs. The majority of homes will be one and two bedroom units for social and affordable housing, with a small number of three bedroom units earmarked for development.

The Benefits

  • Involvement in the project is an attractive investment because Compass will lease the properties for a period of 23-25 years and handle all tenancy and property management.
  • Payment of rent for 52 weeks a year with no vacancies and with an annual CPI based adjustment, is guaranteed!
  • When you partner with Compass you are partnering with a well-managed, financially strong award-winning housing provider. Hunter-based Compass has grown to be an international community housing provider managing more than 4,600 properties as well as community development projects in Australia, New Zealand and Vanuatu.

 

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18 Sep 2017

The Australian Government’s ‘Panadol and rest’ approach to the growing housing affordability crisis will do nothing to ease the headache

The Australian Government’s ‘Panadol and rest’ approach to the growing housing affordability crisis will do nothing to ease the headache, writes Greg Budworth.

Each year Demographia publishes housing affordability data from over 400 cities across the world using a measurement called the median multiple (sometimes called the price-to-income ratio.) The median multiple is derived by dividing the median house price in a particular city by the median household income for the same area. For example, a median multiple of four means that a median priced dwelling costs four times the median household income.

Demographia’s analysis suggests a median multiple of three or less is a sign of a healthy market. A median multiple of between three and five meanwhile, means the market is moderately unaffordable and a score of more than five means housing is severely unaffordable.

While Demographia doesn’t distinguish between scores above five, one could argue for a new category – “extremely unaffordable” – that would be applied beyond a score of seven or eight. Using this measurement, the most unaffordable housing market in the world is Hong Kong with a median multiple of 18.

Second on the list is Sydney at 12, followed by Vancouver at 10.5 and Auckland at 10. Melbourne is tied with San Jose with a median multiple of 9.5.

How did it come to this? After all, for most of the last century, the average Australian home could be had for roughly three to four times the average income. Clearly something has changed, but what?

Last week saw the release of a report the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) about how to fix the housing crisis crippling Australia’s cities. The report, like many before it, contained a series of thoroughly worthy recommendations, but will achieve very little given the absence of a national housing strategy within which its proposals can be prioritised and measured.

It’s critical we get this right because the lack of affordable housing in our major capitals is fuelling a social and economic dislocation that risks undermining their reason for existence.

The reason cities create value, and the reason so many of us choose to live in them, is because they create economic efficiencies by drawing together the factors of production and reducing the costs of transactions, both in commercial markets and within the social and community sectors.

Obviously there are things that help this process of agglomeration, and there are things that hinder it – crime and pollution for example. In Australia’s major cities however, the lack of affordable housing has become the single greatest force against this kind of agglomeration, with workers increasingly forced to move to the outskirts of our cities, or relocate altogether, in search of somewhere they can afford.

Executive Director of the United Nations Habitat program Dr Joan Clos has described the impact a lack of affordable housing has on a city as being like a cancer. The analogy is apt as housing unaffordability has clear causes, its symptoms can be measured in stages, and it can spread from one location to another. Opportunities do exist for it to be treated, if not cured, but before we can assess the various treatment plans being considered by policy makers, we first need to identify its stages.

The major contributors to the problem are easy enough to identify. The most obvious is the government’s abrogation of its responsibility to provide adequate housing for its citizens. At the end of the Second World War, Australia faced a severe housing crisis. In the decade that followed, despite a severe labour shortage and record levels of debt, state and federal governments combined to create more than 670,000 homes.

Seventy years later we are facing the prospect of a substantial decline in living standards, driven largely by out of control housing costs, but this time we appear to have no national plan on how to respond. In fact, instead of taking an active role in addressing the problem, governments of both persuasions persist with policies that actually make it worse.

Millions of words have been written about the pros and cons of tax arrangements that incentivise speculative investment in residential property, but the following statistic tells us all we need to know.

In the early 90s, first homebuyers and investors each accounted for roughly 20 per cent of new mortgages issued by the banks. Today, the share of lending going to first home buyers is less than 10 per cent, while the share going to investors has risen to over 40 per cent.

The other major contributor to housing affordability that is within the federal government’s power to change, although not mentioned by CEDA, is the level of immigration.

Australia currently welcomes more than 200,000 new arrivals every year, almost all of whom choose to settle in either Sydney or Melbourne. Such rapid increases in population will necessitate a corresponding increase in public infrastructure, including social housing, and there is little evidence to suggest we are appropriately prepared.

The combined effect of successive governments deciding to step back from their historic role as a driver of supply, while simultaneously endorsing policies that ensure white-hot demand, has been profound. Over the past three years alone, house prices in Australia have grown at more than four times the rate of wages and more than five times the rate of inflation. Home ownership rates among younger generations have collapsed and, thanks to a combination of cheap credit and FOMO, Australians now have the second highest levels of household debt in the world, making them exceptionally vulnerable to cost of living pressures or increases in interest rates.

But while things are undoubtedly bad for aspiring first homebuyers, they’re worse for those for whom home ownership is just a pipe dream. In Australia we often make the mistake of ignoring the impact high house prices have on those in other parts of the housing market.

Housing is a continuum, not a series of atomised components. As housing affordability worsens, prospective first home buyers inevitably remain in the rental market for longer. This in turn places extra pressure on lower income renters who now find themselves in competition with relatively cashed up would-be first home buyers. Those on the lowest incomes meanwhile, are increasingly forced into inappropriate or unsafe accommodation, or placed at risk of homelessness and left with little choice but to turn to the already swamped social housing system for support.

There are other, less obvious symptoms as well. In Newcastle and the Central Coast for example it is widely believed the rapid decline in affordability is due to asset-rich Sydneysiders shifting equity to those markets. South East Queensland meanwhile, is boasting of relieving Sydney and Melbourne of around 20,000 of their citizens per annum as working families flee the southern states in search of more affordable accommodation, even though they were employed in Sydney or Melbourne.

Clearly there will be no quick fix to a problem that has been allowed to develop over decades, but any interventionist treatment plan needs to be in proportion to the level of the problem. In terms of supply of dwelling numbers, Australia needs between 300-500,000 dwellings right now and the need is growing daily.

Proportionate treatment of this problem could include a targeted program of housing construction under the auspices of a new Affordable Housing Commission. There is an obvious and highly successful precedent in the form of Australia’s post-war building boom predominantly for low-income working households.

For several decades policy makers have failed to diagnose the disease and have tended therefore to try to treat it with the policy equivalent of Panadol and bed rest. This has allowed the problem to develop to the point that it now requires drastic intervention.

The absolutely critical first step however, is the creation of a national housing plan, overseen by a dedicated Minister for Housing.

Without that, all the reports and recommendations in the world, however valid their arguments or learned their authors, are destined to sink without a trace.

 

 

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07 Jul 2017

Award Winning Compass

Hunter-based Compass Housing has picked up three of the eight awards at the Australasian Housing Institute’s NSW Awards held in Sydney on Thursday night (July 6).

The social and affordable community housing provider won the Professional Excellence in Social Housing Award for the most outstanding organisation, community housing provider or Government agency involved in housing for NSW as well as the Leading Asset Management Award. Compass’ group managing director, Greg Budworth, took out the Outstanding Achievement Award for an individual. Compass was also commended for its community development work and tenant initiatives including its community hubs.

Mr Budworth said for Compass to receive the top award for excellence was a tribute to his team’s care, diligence and hard work.

“The award is recognition for the breadth and depth of our services, our focus on tenants and the community as well as our excellence in administration and management,” Mr Budworth said.

“We have an awesome team who do more than put a roof over people’s heads,” he said.

“Our goal is to help our tenants to maximise their contribution to the community, economically and socially,” Mr Budworth said.

“Social housing is an important piece of community infrastructure that makes a fundamental difference to people’s lives.”

Mr Budworth has also been an advocate for improved social and affordable housing local, nationally and internationally. He is co-chair of the UN Habitat program’s civil society partner constituent group and was one of only a few people who were not representing a national Government to address the global UN Habitat conference in Ecuador in 2016. He has been working with other housing experts in lobbying and working with Governments for a national plan for housing.

Compass and Mr Budworth are now finalists, along-side other state and New Zealand winners, at the national awards to be held in Sydney on November 29.

The Australasian Housing Institute Awards recognise excellence in professional practice in social housing that makes a significant and lasting difference to tenants or service users, to their community, to colleagues and to the housing profession.  The awards are in their 14th year and receive more than 100 entries.

Hunter-based Compass Housing has grown to be an international community housing provider managing more than 4,600 properties as well as community development projects in Australia, New Zealand and Vanuatu.

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